I’m Thankful for My Church

Each day until Thanksgiving, Everyday Truth is looking at a different reason to be thankful in a family devotional. Use these devotionals with your kids to help keep your family focused on giving thanks. If you missed the introductory post, check it out here for directions on creating a “Thanksgiving wall.” When you’re done with the devotional head on over to the Everyday Truth Facebook page and join in the discussion of why we’re thankful for the church.

Do you have a church you attend? I bet your church meets in a building. Some churches have beautiful buildings with stained glass windows and artwork on the walls. Other churches may not have a building of their own. They may meet in someone’s home or in a school. Two churches may even share the same building.

Where your church meets isn’t important because a church is not a building. A church is the people that meet in the building. When the Bible talks about the church, it’s not talking about a pretty building with a steeple. It’s talking about the people who meet together. When the Bible was written, the church didn’t have a building, and many times the people had to meet together in secret because there were lots of people who didn’t like Christ-followers and wanted to hurt them.

No matter where our church meets or how many people are part of our church, we should be thankful for the church. If you have a pastor who preaches the Bible, Sunday School or youth group leaders who care about you and other kids who are also trying to follow Jesus, you should be thankful.

We can be thankful if we live in a country where meeting with others in the church is something we can do without being afraid of going to jail. In many places in the world, it’s a crime to be a Christ-follower and to meet together with other Christ-followers. In some countries it’s illegal to even own a Bible. When Christ-followers in those countries choose to meet together, they are risking their freedom and sometimes their lives — just to go to church.

The Bible tells us the church is a group of people who “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” (Acts 2:42-27)

As part of the church, we should be learning about God, telling others about Him and taking care of each other. That’s what a church is all about. The next time you go to church, look around at the people. Think about how each person is taking part in the jobs of the church. Thank someone — your pastor, your Sunday School teacher or even the person cleaning up a spill on the floor — for whatever job they are doing.

On your Thanksgiving wall today, write down one thing that you are thankful for about your church. It can be the fun children’s activities, the great people, your pastor or something else. Thank God for the one thing you like best about your church. And as you head to church on Sunday, remember the church is not a building. It’s the people.

Friday Introduction: Orange Parents

I’m an involved parent when it comes to school. I go through all of my kids’ papers when they bring them home from school. If they clearly didn’t understand something, we go over it together. I check to make sure my kids get their homework done every night. If something is going on at school, I check in with their teachers to make sure we both have a handle on it.

Yet, like most parents, many weeks when Sunday morning rolls around, I send my kids off to their classes, ask them a few questions about what they learned on the way home and leave it at that. Too many times if we have a soccer or hockey game right after church, we may not even get the few questions in.

How can we be such caring and concerned parents when it comes to our kids education, yet leave such an important part of their lives, their spiritual education untouched? That’s not how God intended it.

For too many years, people viewed the church as the primary place for spiritual instruction for their kids. Don’t get me wrong, our kids need to go to church, Sunday School, small group, AWANA or whatever your children’s program is called. They need to know there are other kids who believe the same things they do, they need the experience of meeting together with others and they need to know other Christ-following adults who can influence their lives.

But the primary responsibility for teaching our children about God lies with us. The church is our partner. Remember that our theme verse for this blog, Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

These verses lay the primary responsibility for teaching our children about God at our feet. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t need help. Our churches, our friends and our extended families can help reinforce and partner with us in raising our kids to be Christ-followers.

Too often, though, we, as parents, haven’t done a good job of partnering with our church. We expect our kids to pick up in an hour or two a week, the foundation they need to follow God for the rest of their lives. Would we expect our kids to learn their multiplication facts or all the capitals of the United States in an hour a week? Of course not. We would spend time at home helping them learn those things.

The same goes for their spiritual instruction. We want to partner with our church to teach our children about God. We don’t want to rely on our church as the sole source of spiritual instruction for our kids.

Today, I want to introduce you to a fantastic website that teaches and encourages parents in becoming partners with their churches. Check out Orange Parents, a website put together by the people behind the Orange movement. They describe being “orange” like this:

“Orange is what you get when you combine two primary colors—red and yellow.
 If you paint only with red, you will get what only red can do. If you paint only with yellow, you will get what only yellow can do. But when you paint with red and yellow, you’ll get new possibilities, fresh solutions, vibrant outcomes.

We use the color orange to symbolize what it means to parent beyond your capacity. Orange parents understand that by tapping into a wider community, they have the potential to make a greater impact in the lives of their children.”

The authors of the Orange Parents blog also wrote a fantastic book Parenting Beyond Your Capacity, which is all about creating an environment for your kids where they are supported in their spiritual growth by a community, which includes parents, the church and other Christ-following adults.

Check out these two resources today, and spend some time considering how you can partner with your church and other adults in your children’s lives to support your children’s spiritual growth. Raising kids who are strong Christ-followers takes more than just you or your church. Learn to be orange today.